Saturday afternoon, we headed to Miami to stay the night before I had to get up at 4:30 AM to run/walk 13.1 miles. We met up with our friends and even though die hard runners probably would not recommend it, I did have a glass of wine with dinner because my nerves were all over the place. I went to the restroom once towards the end of dinner and had a mini-panic attack because I realized that I had to go to bed soon, which meant I had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to run/walk 13.1 miles!
Of course, being in a hotel, I slept like crap even though I had brought my own pillow and by the time 4:30 rolled around, I was almost grateful. Did I mention that I woke up at 4:30 AM?!?!
The first and thankfully only mini-crisis occurred at 5:15 when I dug through my gym bag to get dressed and discovered I had not brought my running bra. ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?!?! I frantically called my two friends, but neither of them had brought an extra one, so I bit the bullet and just wore my regular bra. At the time, I thought I would have rather forgotten my pants, but it actually was ok and I didn't feel like my breasts were going to fall off.
The hotel was 1.2 miles from the starting line, so we left about 5:30 and walked there. Yes, we and a ton of other people walked over a mile to get to the starting line of our half or full marathon. Crazy! I know!
We arrived before 6 and holy crow, there were so many people, 15,000 participants and all their support. The music was pumping and it was all very surreal. My stomach was a wreck. We were so far back in the corral that even after the starting fireworks went off, it took a good 12-15 minutes to make it to the starting line. By then, I just ready to GO.
Within the first mile, the course led us over the MacArthur Causeway, which is the longest of the three bridges, but due to the gradual slope, it really wasn't so bad.
Even though, I had been training run half a mile, walk half a mile, I ended up staying with the pack and running the first three miles, which was also the first water/Gatorade station. When I slowed down to grab that drink, my legs kinda freaked, but it was ok. I walked then for probably half a mile and then met up with a nice lady and our conversation carried me to mile 6. My two friends had kept running after 3, so I was on my own, but it was good and there were always a ton of people around me.
The course is very scenic, but to be honest, I didn't look around much. I was, though, in such a better place mentally than I thought I would be and I never wanted to quit. It wasn't until mile 11 when I saw Larry waiting for me to cheer me on that I was ready for it to be over, but I still didn't want to quit. It's a big difference. I knew by then that my friend were probably done and I was ready to be too. Mile 11 was the longest mile I have ever done. I swear it lasted F.O.R.E.V.E.R. At mile 12 though, things picked back up. I knew I was so close and the spectators were multiplying and it was getting loud again.
When I saw the finish line, I "sprinted" as fast as my legs would go and finished with a time of 2:47:56. I figured it out and that's about 11:30 per mile and I am very happy with that.
Even though I sometimes dreaded the training, I really loved actually running in the race and I've already signed up to do the Disney half next January. Now that I have one under my belt, I am so much more motivated to train harder and push myself. It was such a cool experience and when the huge blisters on my toe heals, I will be back out there pounding the pavement.